Drone controls are perhaps one of the most underappreciated aspects of modern drones. People seem to overlook the most important aspect of drone flight. It’s as though they’re so focused on their drones that they don’t see the little electronics that control them.
If you’re not one of those folks, and you’re looking for a wonderful drone as well as a nice controller to go with it, you’ve come to the right spot.
I put together the list you see below, hoping that it would be helpful to individuals searching for a new drone to purchase. It features the top drones with controllers with built-in screens for FPV and other applications.
These displays eliminate the need for cellphones (and their poor WiFi-powered FPV reception) and allow you to fly the drone without a smartphone, providing you a far superior FPV experience in the long run.
So, with that in mind, let’s see which drones made the cut with screens on the remote controller!
Built-In Displays vs. Smartphones: Which Is Better?
This is a really hot topic nowadays. I’m sure you’re all aware that many modern-day drones include FPV capability.
There are two major ways to experience FPV (first-person view straight from your drone’s camera), either with a built-in display (such as the Upair One) or through a smartphone/tablet with a specialized app that links to the drone’s camera. Virtual reality headsets are a third alternative, but they’re on a whole other level!
So, what exactly is the difference between the two? There are several things at play.
The brightness is the most prevalent (and the one that is always discussed).
Built-in displays have a higher cd/m2 than smartphones, resulting in increased brightness and visibility in direct sunlight. But it isn’t the only significant difference.
There’s also the FPV feed’s connection type to consider. For example, the two most common are 2.4 GHz (the average WiFi frequency used in 90% of mid-tier devices) and 5.8 GHz. The latter is employed by high-end drones and performs admirably in latency and picture quality.
Unfortunately, producing drones and controllers with such technology is substantially more expensive. Thus they’re now only available on the most expensive drones. 5.8 GHz is also the standard frequency for VR headsets and FPV goggles, as a side note.
Best Drones with Built-in Screen That You Can Fly WITHOUT A Smartphone
DJI AIR 2S
In 2021, the DJI Air 2S was likely to be the best bang for your buck drone! It’s a beast, with outstanding all-around performance in an absurdly compact size.
The number of features DJI has crammed into one tiny device is incredible. It’s also unbelievable, especially when you consider the low price.
We’re looking at a 1-inch sensor here, a 1-inch sensor that, owing to its 3-axis gimbal, can produce amazing 5.4K footage with the best smoothness.
But there’s a catch: you can only film at 30 frames per second at this quality, which isn’t optimal for most situations. However, lowering the resolution to 4k will allow you to improve the frame rate to 60 fps.
Don’t even get me started on the characteristics of this little brat. It comes with everything you’d expect from a DJI flagship. Autonomous flying modes are highly demanded, and the DJI Air 2S delivers.
QuickShots are most likely what you’re looking for. They provide a wide range of autonomous capture modes, making them a true crowd-pleaser.
There isn’t much about this drone that you won’t enjoy. It’s portable, foldable, powerful, and reasonably priced.
It can run for about half an hour and fly for around 12 kilometers (approximately 7.5 miles), both of which are impressive for the price.
When you add that to the rest of the package, you’ll see how good of a deal this is. It’s a DJI drone, which means it includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a drone in its ecosystem.
Autonomous flight capabilities, user-friendly software, and various intelligent capture modes.
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AUTEL ROBOTICS EVO 2
If you’re weary of hearing about DJI drones, you’ll be relieved to see a new name on this list. There were a lot more brands participating a few years ago.
When it comes to top-tier models, everything comes down to DJI and Autel Robotics these days. Should you remain with the largest drone ecosystem or venture into uncharted territory? Let’s take a closer look!
Compared to the original EVO drones, the second-generation EVO drones provide several much-needed enhancements.
It’s currently attempting to match the performance of the DJI Mavic 2 series, even though some of its specifications are on par (or even better) than the all-new third-generation Mavic.
On the other hand, the pricing indicates that this isn’t your average consumer drone.
Autel has designed this bad boy for commercial usage for those ready to obtain a commercial drone pilot license and use this UAV to increase their business’s technological capabilities.
As previously stated, the EVO 2 can do all of the functions of the Mavic 2, and then some! It can fly for around 30 minutes and reach a distance of up to 5 kilometers from its transmitter.
Its transmitter has a 3.26-inch OLED screen, which eliminates the need for a smartphone, as one might think given the headline of this article.
It’s on the little side, but it’s still really handy for whatever you’re doing with it. Overall, there are only a few better drones with remote controls screens than Autel Robotics EVO 2.
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The Hubsan is a company progressively solidifying its place in the drone business, and this model from Hubsan – H501S is one of the best drones with a built-in screen.
This model has a highly responsive controller with a 4.3-inch LCD with 480272 resolution, in addition to its fantastic design and good build quality.
It uses a 2.4GHz network for flight, but the FPV function uses 5.8GHz for the best FPV experience.
Furthermore, it is remarkable to see a full HD camera on such a low-cost drone. The fact that it has brushless motors makes it even better.
We all know that they are far more dependable and powerful than traditional brushed ones, demonstrating that the Hubsan H501S is aimed at the major guys.
But it’s not just about the motors; it’s also about the features that go with them. Headless mode, automatic return to home, altitude hold, follow me, and, best of all, GPS are all included.
It is quite smooth in the air, especially given its low price, and it comes with some respectable features.
It has a battery that can last up to 20 minutes in the air and fly up to 300 meters.
Everything about this drone is well-balanced, and it’s a fantastic mid-tier option for anybody looking for something new.
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Holy Stone F181F
The Holy Stone F181F is a serious challenger. It is made by the Chinese drone manufacturer Holly Stone. This drone has recently been fairly popular, and it was this drone that first brought the Holly Stone firm to the attention of the Western market.
Despite being a little drone, it has some incredible powers. This is a significant benefit considering the affordable price tag, but the figures may not appear to be as spectacular compared to its more costly equivalents.
Because it only has a range of 100 meters and a flying period of roughly 10 minutes, you’ll need to keep this drone near to you.
It also has a 2MP camera that can record films and snap images at a resolution of 720p.
Even if these metrics aren’t as impressive as the other drones with a built-in screen, given the price, it’s a bargain.
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DJI Mavic 3 – Best Drone With Controller on Screen
The freshly introduced DJI Mavic 3 is available in two distinct models: standard and cine. You’ll have to acquire the latter if you want a real remote display that won’t drain your device’s power and won’t be chunky.
The Cine edition includes the Pro Smart Controller and a slew of other professional photography features, including Apple ProRes compatibility and more ND filters.
The price difference is large, but it’s definitely worth it if your use case necessitates these additional functionalities.
Some individuals require Apple ProRes support; if you know what it is and what it can accomplish, there’s a strong chance you’ll need it!
The camera sensors are the same in both variants. Hasselblad provided the primary camera. It’s a 4/3-inch 20MP sensor that’ll give you the clearest, smoothest film you’ve ever seen.
If this is what you need a drone for, the DJI Mavic 3 will not disappoint!
The battery life has been exaggerated a lot, but we’ve become accustomed to it. They claim it may last up to 45 minutes, but in reality, it’s more like 35 to 38 minutes at most.
The same can be said about flying duration: it’s advertised for up to 15 kilometers in ideal conditions, translating to 20% to 30% less in real-world settings.
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Can You Use a Drone Without a Smartphone?
Short answer: Yes. Because the majority of drones use a smartphone as the first-person-view (FPV) screen, you’ll need your smartphone to fly your drone.
The FPV screen shows the pilot what the drone sees while it is in the air through a live transmission.
When piloting your drone, this is the first basic function of your mobile device. Smartphones, on the other hand, are capable of considerably more, such as controlling flight.
The truth is that the more features your drone remote control have, the less you’ll need to rely on your smartphone.
If you ever get the opportunity to stand on the sidelines and watch drone racing or remote control airplane pilots in action, you’ll note that they don’t use cell phones.
Drone racers utilize a view, but it’s in the form of an FPV virtual reality headset rather than a smartphone.
And, depending on how you look at it, having a remote control with additional capability may be beneficial or detrimental.
Consider this: the more functionality your remote contains, the more difficult it will be to operate and fly your drone.
If you’ve been around drones for a while, you’ve probably seen some of the best drone transmitters that appear to be capable of launching a rocket ship into space. There are controls and lovers everywhere, as well as a little display.
The display on some of these higher-end remote controllers is utilized for information such as battery level, telemetry, and software status updates regarding your flight, rather than for first-person perspective.
If you’re a fan of unmanned flying or one of the more experienced drone pilots out there, you’ll feel right at home with remote controllers like these.
You’d want the complete experience of piloting your own plane and putting your skills to the test against the wind and other experienced pilots.
You’d be in the minority as well.
Drone makers are well aware that most drone pilots are either a novice or not core hobbyists.
To make things easier for these rookie pilots, most remote controls have been simplified. There are no frills or telemetric displays here.
Many remote controls are categorized as “toy class,” with little more than the standard down/up/right/left movements.
Because smartphones can carry the functionality of these high-end remote controllers, the complex functions are relegated to your drone’s accompanying phone app.
When you unpack your drone, you’ll find a remote control that you can use to fly and a smartphone app that handles the heavy lifting for you.
This returns us to our original question: do you need a phone to fly your drone?
And the answer is that it’s possible that it isn’t. However, if you want to fly your drone beyond the basic flight features accessible on the remote control, you’ll almost certainly need a smartphone. For real-time FPV video footage, you’ll also need your phone.
Of course, if your drone doesn’t have a camera, none of this discussion is essential. You don’t need a phone to use the drone if you don’t have a camera and the drone has its own transmitter.
Why Do Drones Need a Screen?
New drone pilots have a lot of questions about this. Many pilots are unsure why drones require a display of what a screen is for.
Well, it depends on the type of drone you have, but in general, the drone’s controller display is used for telemetry and basic flight information display.
Aside from these two purposes, the first-person view (FPV) is another aspect of the on-screen displays.
This feature is incredible since it effectively allows the drone operator to receive a live feed directly from the drone’s camera without sacrificing image quality.
When combined with the capabilities of VR and FPV headsets, this function is fantastic. RC plane pilots mostly utilize this in the sport of drone racing.
Because all visuals are displayed through the headset, you don’t need a smartphone to have a display for the drone you’re flying.
Most firms aim to make their remote controllers as basic as possible to make things easy for inexperienced drone pilots. Many toy drone controllers only have the standard up, down, left, and right controls.
In fact, the more capability a drone remote has, the more difficult it is to control the drone. The most advanced drones have many buttons and knobs strewed about to give additional capabilities.
So, if you want to fly a drone without having to use your smartphone, the drones I listed above are the best to get. These drones come in various sizes, from the Phantom 4 Pro and Autel EVO to the Potensic U36D and HStone F181F.
They all have various specifications and price tags, which will have a huge influence on your decision, but I assure you will have a good time flying any of them.
The Phantom 4 is my favorite of the bunch, and it’s credited with bringing the drone hobby to the general public’s attention, but it’s been discontinued. The Autel EVO is still a strong challenger, plus it’s smaller and lighter, making it more portable.
It makes no difference whatever one you pick; just remember to keep your eyes on your drone and have fun while flying!